We all possess habits we wish to alter or new ones we aspire to cultivate. The battle with willpower is a common challenge on this journey, whether it involves committing to a fitness program, shedding a few extra pounds, or conquering that irresistible urge to devour an entire chocolate bar instead of savouring a portion.
Often, we start with great determination, convincing ourselves that our efforts are effective. However, over time, we stumble, leading to a momentary lapse where we tell ourselves, “I’ve failed today, I might as well give up.” Consequently, we revert to our former ways. But why does this cycle persist? It’s because our logical conscious mind, responsible for a mere 5% of our functioning, is overshadowed by the powerful influence of our unconscious mind, which governs us 95% of the time. This unconscious mind is shaped by our past conditioning, encompassing personal experiences, upbringing, emotions, actions, and habits.
Comfort and Change:
Our past conditioning provides comfort and familiarity, hardwiring our brains to respond in a particular manner. The more we repeat an action, the more automatic it becomes. When we attempt to introduce change, even small changes, our brain’s innate inclination to maintain the status quo intervenes. We find ourselves battling the current, struggling in unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, and often retreating to our comfortable familiar zone. Consider something as routine as brushing your teeth. If you suddenly had to use the other hand and reverse the whole procedure, it would feel uncomfortable and you’d have to realty think about what you were doing! If you did this every day for a few days, then it would start to become familiar too.
So, how do we initiate the transformations we seek? It begins with gaining conscious awareness of our self-talk and our tendency to revert to the familiar.
To embrace change, we must learn to sit with discomfort, uncertainty, and the unfamiliar. This process can be challenging, requiring acceptance and embracing our emotions. Rather than suppressing them, we acknowledge their presence and understand that these feelings are transient. It is worth noting how many times we’ve already navigated such emotions in our lives.
This is where growth and transformation happen. With practice, our brain rewires itself, and we continue to evolve and learn. Challenging ourselves is crucial for avoiding stagnation and dissatisfaction in life.
Norman Doidge, in his book “The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science,” states, “We must be learning if we are to feel fully alive. When life or love becomes too predictable and it seems like there is little left to learn, we become restless—a protest, perhaps”
In our pursuit of change, it is imperative that we acknowledge the power of the unconscious mind, accept discomfort, and embrace the unfamiliar. This path of self-awareness and transformation leads to growth and fulfillment, ensuring that we continue to learn and evolve in our journey through life.